A few months ago I decided to move in with my grandparents. I thought it would be a good idea because they are older and it would be nice to have someone around just in case they needed something. Although I practically work every day and am not home as much as I thought I would be, I still get to see them more often than I did in the past. My Grandma is extremely independent. She is 85 and she still drives, (only in daylight and avoids the freeways by taking back roads), prepares all meals during the day, cleans house every Saturday, does her laundry on the regular, and makes trips to 3 different grocery stores in a morning to make sure she gets the best prices on all her items. She is not just doing this for herself, but she is doing this for my Grandpa too. My Grandpa has dementia and is in his early stages of parkinson's, which means taking medications and specific times...and Grandma is always on top of it. Amazing you say? She's incredible. Being a fitness instructor, I am always interested in different class formats and classes working with special populations. Grandma takes aerobics class every Monday and Wednesday at Jefferson Community Center on Beacon Hill. I have always told her I wanted to come watch class and I actually had a free morning where I could go! I was really excited and told her I would drive us to the class, but Grandma told me she was leaving as I was brushing my teeth...I couldn't do anything but laugh and let her drive herself.
As I pulled up to Jefferson Community Center I couldn't help but smile and be excited. I knew I was going to walk into a room of older ladies exercising and stuff like that touches me. I walked in the double doors and asked the young lady at the front desk where the class was and she pointed me to the gymnasium. There was Grandma, front and center, and about 10 other ladies in the class. The instructor, Stacey, stood in the front, facing the class. The class begin with a warm up of marches and knee lifts. They then moved into combinations that included mambos, V-steps, hamstring curls, kicks, and grapevines. They repeated the combinations many times, adding a new step each time. They got a water break after 20 minutes and Grandma walks towards the wall signaling to me how warm she was. Grandma introduced me to each lady during their break and they also invited me to join in the second part of their aerobics portion.
Aerobics action shot
"Heel Toe" line walking
It felt great to participate with the ladies. Not only does it take energy to take the hour long class, but coordination, range of motion, and musicality are involved. After the cardio portion they grabbed their hand weights (Grandma brings her own) and continued with a strength portion. This segment included squats, bicep curls, bent row, lateral raises, tricep kick backs, and should raises. The final water break was announced and then they lined up on the side line for line walks. This focused on balance while walking heel to toe. Grandma seemed to be moving faster than the rest and was called out by her classmate, Tako. Tako saw that Grandma was not walking exactly "heel toe" and said, "Cheater!" It was great to see the sense of humor in the class. Once they completed their line walk, they grabbed a chair for their cool down and stretch. I joined in this portion of the class as well.
As I was sitting and admiring the class, I was thinking about why I love instructing. I was thinking about why I do what I do. I do it because I love making a difference. I love helping others live healthy lifestyles. I love seeing how HAPPY people are after a great workout. I love seeing people like my Grandma live the way she does and for as long as she has. Many diseases can be prevented by simply exercising and eating a healthy diet. Its that simple! The hardest part is actually doing it. Whether you are in your 20's, 30's, or 80's you can start now! My Grandma is an inspiration to all. Just remember to "Keep Moving" and to continue to stay "fit" throughout your entire life.
Live Healthy & Be Happy.